Odd Writers #6: Writing a Book with One Eyelid

With what has to be one of the most inspired titles ever, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ is truly a book with a difference.

The author did not use his hands or feet to write it.

He didn’t use his mouth and tongue to dictate the words.

He used the only thing he could move in his entire body – his left eyelid! (Okay, I know I gave that away in the title, but it’s been a long day 😀 )

Jean-Dominique Bauby was editor-in-chief for French fashion mag ‘Elle’. He had everything a man could want. And he lost it all after suffering a severe stroke, including the use of his whole body. After waking from a 20-day coma, Jean-Dominique found that he couldn’t move but he could hear and understand everything going on around him. As you can imagine, it took a long time to communicate that he was still very much awake and functioning. And then it took a very long time for someone to realise he had an awful lot to say.

So, how on earth did he do it? Continue reading

INSPIRATION: Lottie’s Minefield

Eadweard Muybridge (he changed his name several times to come up with that) not only killed his wife’s lover, but also came up with the first ever motion photography. ‘The Horse in Motion’ was achieved by setting up a number of cameras along a distance to take photographs when the horse triggered a series of tripwires.

Horse in Motion


On Monday morning, Lottie walked into a minefield. She didn’t mean to. She didn’t even know it was there. But once in, she got so far and couldn’t turn back. If she turned back there would be even more explosions. Explosions that would ricochet through her whole life. And she wouldn’t be the only casualty.

Mum suggested it.

“Call Uncle Milo,” she said,” I don’t know why you’re so precious about it. He changed your nappies when you were tiny. He gave you your first taste of orange juice – you shuddered so hard when you swallowed it and then wanted more.”

“He’d feel obliged,” Lottie argued, “And I hate for people to feel obliged.”

“Take, take, take!” Her mum insisted, “If you don’t take for yourself, you’ll get nothing and end up like Helena.”

Helena was Lottie’s older – much older-sister. Helena lived in a one bedroom flat with three cats and a poster of Leonardo Di Caprio in Titanic. Helena had a solitary job. She reshelved books at the British Library after hours. She lived in a world of silence. Except for incessant meowing.

Lottie thought about Helena and how their lives were different, and how their lives were the same. They both loved vanilla more than chocolate, and the smell of mown grass more than flowers. But that’s pretty much where the similarities ended.

When he came round, Uncle Milo was so very nice. He said ‘of course’ a lot, and ‘well, I do owe you, Maggie’. All of this to Lottie’s mother who had decided to do the taking on Lottie’s behalf, lest she end up with two useless daughters. Lottie sat, quietly thanking and nodding in the corner. She became so fixated on Uncle Milo changing her nappy that she almost missed the final planning.

A one week course from Monday 18th September. Greenwich School of Film. Accommodation and meals provided. Fee of £4,865 waived for Lottie. Of course.

Afterwards, Lottie’s mother washed the teacups and pressed her finger onto the biscuit plate to capture the crumbs and suck them up.

“You know how amazing this is?” she said.


“He’s one of the best.”

And he was. Milo Lorenzo. Film Director of 25 years. Winner of a Palm d’Or in 1998, an Oscar in 2001, and three Baftas in some other years that Lottie couldn’t quite remember.

“Don’t let me down, Lottie.”

“I… I’ll try not to.”


And so Uncle Milo felt obliged. And so Lottie walked into the minefield. Completely unprotected.